Continueing about the idea of the indigo blob, there’s a related concept of “weathervanes”. These are pundit-eque types that continually appear on the TV news, look like scientists but are actually nothing of the sort. They’re merely repeating political talking points while wearing a lab coat.

Quoting Vinay Prasad:

Weathervanes often have similar characteristics. First, they self identify as ‘science communicators’ and less often as ‘scientists.’ Some have published papers, but these are often un-original and plodding. Rarely, in their scientific work have they held a position or stance against others in their own field or discipline. Almost never has their work taken place on a controversial issue, in the midst of a scientific debate. I will return to this.

But they fundamentally are not able to read primary literature and process it themselves. They betray themselves by always talking about a new study— for instance the CDC’ study on diabetes rates in kids post covid19— using only the terms/ findings presented in the media the day before. That’s because they haven’t read the actual paper!

And I’d expand this concept even further. Ever notice the people in a group who never have anything original to say, never do any actual work, yet seem to always be talking about the latest buzzwords? Weathervanes.